Republic of Yemen Government (ROYG) forces; Ministry of Defense: Yemeni National Army, Air Force and Air Defense, Navy and Coastal Defense Forces, Border Guard, Strategic Reserve Forces (includes Special Forces and Presidential Protection Brigades, which are under the Ministry of Defense but responsible to the president), Popular Committee Forces (aka Popular Resistance Forces; government-backed tribal militia); Ministry of Interior: Special Security Forces (paramilitary; formerly known as Central Security Forces), Political Security Organization (state security), National Security Bureau (intelligence), Counterterrorism Unit
Saudi-backed forces: paramilitary/militia border security brigades based largely on tribal or regional affiliation (deployed along the Saudi-Yemen border)
United Arab Emirates-backed forces include tribal and regionally-based militia and paramilitary forces (concentrated in the southern governates): Southern Transitional Council (STC) forces, including the Security Belt Forces, the Shabwani and Hadrami “Elite” Forces, the Support and Backup Forces (aka Logistics and Support Forces), Facilities Protection Forces, and Anti-Terrorism Forces; Republican Forces; Joint Forces
Houthi: ground, aerospace (air, missile), naval/coastal defense, presidential protection, special operations, and militia/tribal auxiliary forces (2023)
note 1: under the 2019 Riyadh Agreement, the STC forces were to be incorporated into Yemen’s Ministries of Defense and Interior under the authority of the HADI government
note 2: a considerable portion--up to 70 percent by some estimates--of Yemen’s military and security forces defected in whole or in part to former president SALAH and the Houthi opposition in 2011-2015
prior to the start of the civil war in 2014, annual military expenditures were approximately 4-5% of Yemen's GDP
information limited and widely varied; Yemen Government: up to 300,000 estimated military, paramilitary, militia, and other security forces; UAE- and Saudi-backed forces: estimated 150-200,000 trained militia and paramilitary fighters; Houthis: up to 200,000 estimated fighters (2022)
the inventory of the Yemeni Government forces consists primarily of Russian and Soviet-era equipment, although much of it has been lost in the current conflict; since the start of the civil war in 2014, it has received limited amounts of donated equipment from some Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia and UAE
Houthi forces are armed largely with weapons seized from Yemeni Government forces; they are also reported to have received military hardware from Iran (2022)
18 is the legal minimum age for voluntary military service; conscription abolished in 2001; 2-year service obligation (note - limited information since the start of the civil war in 2014) (2021)
government forces under the Yemeni Ministry of Defense are responsible for territorial defense, but also have internal security functions; their main focus is on the Houthi rebels and protecting Yemen’s maritime borders, which are susceptible to smuggling of fighters, arms, and other material support for the Houthis and terrorist groups operating in Yemen, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham in Yemen; they are organized into brigades of armored, border guard, infantry, mechanized, presidential protection, and special forces; the brigades vary significantly in size, structure, and capabilities; the Air Force has small numbers of mostly Soviet-era aircraft while the Navy and Coast Guard have a few patrol boats
in 2015, a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states (UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan, Kuwait, Jordan and Egypt) intervened militarily in Yemen in support of the Republic of Yemen Government against the separatist Houthis; Saudi military forces conducted operations in Yemen and raised and equipped paramilitary/militia security forces in Yemen based largely on tribal or regional affiliation to deploy along the Saudi-Yemen border; UAE's participation in 2015 included several thousand ground troops, as well as supporting air and naval forces; UAE withdrew its main military force from Yemen in 2019, but has retained a smaller military presence while working with proxies in southern Yemen, most notably the Southern Transitional Council (STC); UAE has recruited, trained, and equipped tens of thousands of Yemeni fighters and formed them into dozens of militia and paramilitary units
Houthi forces are organized into combat, presidential protection, special forces, and tribal/militia/paramilitary brigades and independent battalions; the Houthis also have UAV and missile units, as well as naval forces (mines, missiles, and some boats); Iran has provided military and political support to the Houthis (2023)
the International Maritime Bureau reports a significant security risk to vessels transiting off Yemen and the Gulf of Aden due to the civil war in Yemen; vessels have been fired upon and approached, not piracy related; the Maritime Administration of the US Department of Transportation has issued a Maritime Advisory (2023-003 - Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, Bab al Mandeb Strait, Red Sea, and Somali Basin-Threats to Commercial Vessels) effective 23 February 2023, which states in part that "Regional conflict, military activity, and political tensions pose threats to commercial vessels operating in the above listed geographic areas"
NOTE: The information regarding Yemen on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Yemen 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Yemen 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.
This page was last modified 06 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.